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Bolivian women skaters wear indigenous dress to celebrate their roots : Goats and Soda : NPR


Members of the all-female skate crew ImillaSkate in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The athletes put on polleras, skirts historically worn by Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara and Quechua girls, once they skate at tournaments. “Many girls who see us skating feel proud to see us dressed [this way],” says skater Fabiola Gonzales. “Even our own families feel proud we’re showing our traditions.”

Luisa Dörr


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Luisa Dörr


Members of the all-female skate crew ImillaSkate in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The athletes put on polleras, skirts historically worn by Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara and Quechua girls, once they skate at tournaments. “Many girls who see us skating feel proud to see us dressed [this way],” says skater Fabiola Gonzales. “Even our own families feel proud we’re showing our traditions.”

Luisa Dörr

No matter the place skaters are on the earth, you may doubtless discover them sporting dishevelled denims and light T-shirts.

Not so for this all-female skate crew in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They pair their Vans sneakers with their mother’s and grandma’s polleras — colourful, layered skirts worn by the nation’s indigenous Aymara and Quechua inhabitants.

And they don’t seem to be simply doing it for the style. The crew — known as ImillaSkate (imilla means “young girl” within the Aymara and Quechua languages) — wish to pay homage to their heritage and name out the persecution that the Aymara and Quechua individuals, majority ethnic teams in Bolivia, have lengthy confronted. During Spanish colonial rule, land in Bolivia was taken from indigenous individuals, leaving them impoverished and marginalized. Over the years, many ladies in these teams deserted their cultural costumes to keep away from discrimination.

“By skating in polleras, we want to show that girls and women can do anything, no matter how you look or how people see you,” says Daniela Santiváñez, who based ImillaSkate with two associates in 2018. “The message is to be yourself and be proud of who you are.”

Skateboarding is a giant a part of that. “It teaches you confidence, self-love, to get up from falls — and to be authentic, too,” she provides.

Skater Huara Medina Montaño, 24, teaches a fellow skater’s mom journey a skateboard.

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Luisa Dörr


Skater Huara Medina Montaño, 24, teaches a fellow skater’s mom journey a skateboard.

Luisa Dörr

Award-winning Brazilian photographer Luisa Dörr, who found the younger girls on Instagram, captured their vibe in a sequence of intimate portraits taken over two weeks in September and October 2021.

“I was fascinated by their passion for their culture and the need to preserve it,” says Dörr. “Skating was just the excuse to bring up other issues.”

The 9 crew members, most of their 20s, meet commonly to follow. It’s particularly essential to them to put on conventional gown at public occasions like competitions and tournaments.

“At first, I used to feel a little awkward” about sporting the pollera whereas skating, says ImillaSkate member Susan Meza. But now, she provides, she understands “the object of doing it and I feel more comfortable and free.”

Here’s a range from Dörr’s photograph sequence.

Crew members skate in Pairumani Park on the outskirts of Cochabamba — one in all their favourite spots due to its magnificence.

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Luisa Dörr


Crew members skate in Pairumani Park on the outskirts of Cochabamba — one in all their favourite spots due to its magnificence.

Luisa Dörr

Skater Luisa Zurita, 32, wears her grandmother’s conventional pollera skirt whereas her grandmother types her hair. “We dress like this to promote the acceptance of our [indigenous] culture within Bolivian society,” says fellow ImillaSkate member Montaño. “Dressing [this way] symbolizes strength, security, elegance.”

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Luisa Dörr


Skater Luisa Zurita, 32, wears her grandmother’s conventional pollera skirt whereas her grandmother types her hair. “We dress like this to promote the acceptance of our [indigenous] culture within Bolivian society,” says fellow ImillaSkate member Montaño. “Dressing [this way] symbolizes strength, security, elegance.”

Luisa Dörr

Left: Deysi Tacuri Lopez, 27, will get her hair styled by Joselin Brenda Mamani Tinta. Traditionally, indigenous girls in Bolivia put on their hair in two lengthy plaits with the ends tied along with a tassled twine. Right: A element of the coiffure. “Pollera women give extra importance to their hair,” says Tinta. Her grandmother instructed her that brushing hair eliminates unhappiness and unhealthy power.

Luisa Dörr


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Luisa Dörr


Left: Deysi Tacuri Lopez, 27, will get her hair styled by Joselin Brenda Mamani Tinta. Traditionally, indigenous girls in Bolivia put on their hair in two lengthy plaits with the ends tied along with a tassled twine. Right: A element of the coiffure. “Pollera women give extra importance to their hair,” says Tinta. Her grandmother instructed her that brushing hair eliminates unhappiness and unhealthy power.

Luisa Dörr

Zurita began skateboarding in 2016. At first, her household did not approve of her participating within the sport. But they modified their minds after her grandmother noticed Zurita skating on a TV program. When she realized it was her granddaughter’s ardour, Zurita’s grandmother gave her the blessing to maintain skating.

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Zurita began skateboarding in 2016. At first, her household did not approve of her participating within the sport. But they modified their minds after her grandmother noticed Zurita skating on a TV program. When she realized it was her granddaughter’s ardour, Zurita’s grandmother gave her the blessing to maintain skating.

Luisa Dörr

Daniela Santiváñez, 25, is the co-founder of ImillaSkate. She says the group’s goal is to “grow” the game in Bolivia and advocate for “more spaces to practice so we can participate in sports tournaments around the world as other athletes do.”

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Luisa Dörr


Daniela Santiváñez, 25, is the co-founder of ImillaSkate. She says the group’s goal is to “grow” the game in Bolivia and advocate for “more spaces to practice so we can participate in sports tournaments around the world as other athletes do.”

Luisa Dörr

Left: Skater Miriam Estefanny Morales, 23, at La Cancha market within the metropolis of Cochabamba. In addition to the pollera skirt, she wears a standard hat as a part of the indigenous girls’s apparel. Right: Members of the crew take a look at braided hair extensions at La Cancha market.

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Left: Skater Miriam Estefanny Morales, 23, at La Cancha market within the metropolis of Cochabamba. In addition to the pollera skirt, she wears a standard hat as a part of the indigenous girls’s apparel. Right: Members of the crew take a look at braided hair extensions at La Cancha market.

Luisa Dörr

Deysi Tacuri Lopez, her mom and her aunt at their dwelling in Cochabamba. “My mother has a saying: I was born wearing a pollera and I will die wearing one,” says Lopez. “I carry on her belief. I feel comfortable as I am, wearing a pollera.”

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Deysi Tacuri Lopez, her mom and her aunt at their dwelling in Cochabamba. “My mother has a saying: I was born wearing a pollera and I will die wearing one,” says Lopez. “I carry on her belief. I feel comfortable as I am, wearing a pollera.”

Luisa Dörr

This skate park is one other favourite place to follow. The athletes say the view is superb, and the park is calm as a result of it is from the town.

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Luisa Dörr


This skate park is one other favourite place to follow. The athletes say the view is superb, and the park is calm as a result of it is from the town.

Luisa Dörr

Left: ImillaSkate athletes exhibit their matching sneakers. Right: Lopez wears the medals she gained from skate competitions in Chile and Bolivia. She began skating 7 years in the past.

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Luisa Dörr


Left: ImillaSkate athletes exhibit their matching sneakers. Right: Lopez wears the medals she gained from skate competitions in Chile and Bolivia. She began skating 7 years in the past.

Luisa Dörr

María Belén Fajardo Fernández, 21, is a physiotherapy scholar and the youngest within the group.

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Luisa Dörr


María Belén Fajardo Fernández, 21, is a physiotherapy scholar and the youngest within the group.

Luisa Dörr

Ellinor Buitrago Méndez, 25, says that sporting the pollera whereas skateboarding sends the message to girls that they’ll do no matter they like whereas preserving who they’re.

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Luisa Dörr


Ellinor Buitrago Méndez, 25, says that sporting the pollera whereas skateboarding sends the message to girls that they’ll do no matter they like whereas preserving who they’re.

Luisa Dörr

Méndez wears a pollera and a standard hat. Fellow skater Medina says “some of the girls inherited their polleras from their mothers and grandmothers,” however every woman types them otherwise based on their very own private style.

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Luisa Dörr


Méndez wears a pollera and a standard hat. Fellow skater Medina says “some of the girls inherited their polleras from their mothers and grandmothers,” however every woman types them otherwise based on their very own private style.

Luisa Dörr

The ladies dance at Pairumani Park on the outskirts of Cochabamba. “We are all unique and our differences make the world such a rich place,” says Daniela Santiváñez. “We should respect everyone for who they are. We want to show how beautiful Bolivia’s culture is.”

Luisa Dörr


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Luisa Dörr


The ladies dance at Pairumani Park on the outskirts of Cochabamba. “We are all unique and our differences make the world such a rich place,” says Daniela Santiváñez. “We should respect everyone for who they are. We want to show how beautiful Bolivia’s culture is.”

Luisa Dörr

Grace Widyatmadja and Ben de la Cruz photograph edited this piece.





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